Showing posts from 2017

I Was Almost a Child Bride

OK, that headline is somewhat misleading because my parents NEVER would have consented to me marrying before the age of 18, but there was a much older man in our church who expressed interest in marrying me when I was only 14. Can you imagine? But I'm getting ahead of myself....

I have absolutely no statistics on the age of marriage in the Church of Christ, but anecdotally, I can tell you that people tend to marry young, either right out of high school or college. Since most of them in the noninstitutional churches tend to go to 2-year colleges like Florida College, they're getting married in the 18-21-year-old range. Most people I knew in the church were married by age 25. Anyone who was still single at 30 was written off as a "confirmed bachelor" or a spinster. Still, most people in the Midwestern churches I knew waited until they were at least 18 to marry. I did know a few people who married much earlier, though, and all the stuff in the news recently about Roy Mo…

Dirty John and Evangelical Christianity

Recently, I read the 6-part story in the L.A. Times about a man nicknamed Dirty John. If you haven't read the story or listened to the companion podcast, I highly recommend that you do so. In brief (and without spoiling the ending), it's about a con man named John who marries a woman, Debra, and victimizes her and her family.

The aspect of the story that jumped out at me was Debra's evangelical Christian faith. Years before the events of this story occurred, Debra's brother-in-law murdered her sister, and their mother pleaded for the whole family to forgive him immediately. She felt that it was required by her faith. She passed this ideal down to Debra, who was extremely quick to excuse, overlook, and forgive her husband John's many misdeeds. She believed that she should always look for the best in people, always give them the benefit of the doubt, and always forgive, no matter how heinous the crime.

I'm not trying to blame the victim here. No one is responsibl…

The Church of Christ Turned Me Into a Feminist

I've been looking through old posts, and I don't think I've told this story before, at least not the whole story. So here goes.

Most COC congregations have gospel meetings (i.e., revivals, but they don't use that term because the Baptists do) once or twice a year, when they invite a guest preacher to come in and preach every night for a week. When I was 6 or 7, the church invited this old Southern preacher to hold a gospel meeting.

One night during a sermon, he started yelling from the pulpit and pounding on it. He was so worked up that I actually looked up and listened to what he was saying. Mind you, up to this point in my life, I hadn't paid a bit of attention to a church sermon because they were unremittingly boring. Instead, I sat there playing with my little dolls or coloring in my Jesus or Noah's ark coloring books.

This guy had the thickest accent, so I had trouble understanding him, but I finally realized what he was saying: he denounced the women'…

Why Do I Still Go to Church?

It often happens that when I tell someone my horror stories about growing up in the church of Christ, the person will look at me in amazement and say, "I can't believe you still go to church!" Honestly, I can't quite believe it myself. After all those years of spiritual abuse, you would think I would be done with religion. Both of my siblings have left Christianity altogether, which seems to be typical of people who escape the COC (I have only anecdotal evidence to back this up). I won't say my siblings are atheists, but they simply refuse to be involved in any kind of organized religion. They think it's all a scam--that all preachers are money-grubbing charlatans and all congregations are full of toxic, controlling people. I don't judge them for feeling that way. The sad truth is that a lot of churches are like that. I guess I've been lucky to find a church that I find uplifting and nourishing, rather than soul draining.

So why do I still go to churc…

The Church of Christ and Politics

Since the most recent presidential election, I've read a lot of pundits who are mystified as to why evangelicals broke so hard for Trump, given that the thrice-married adulterer and admitted sexual assaulter doesn't live up to their much-vaunted family values. I wasn't a bit surprised because, in my experience, people in these conservative churches tend to be deeply sexist and authoritarian, and they will ALWAYS vote for a man, especially one who tries to bully and intimidate his opponents.

There is no doubt that the culture of the Church of Christ is sexist. They openly teach (and quote scripture trying to prove) that men are in charge and women are to be subservient to them. I've heard COC preachers say that, if a woman ever becomes president, they're moving to Canada because they believe it is sinful for a woman to have any sort of authority over a man, let alone millions of men. Satan himself could have run for president against Hillary Clinton, and COC voter…

Bach's St. Matthew Passion: Lent Study Group

Every year my church organizes some small study groups that meet once a week during Lent. This year I signed up for a group led by my choir director that is doing an in-depth study of Bach's magnificent St. Matthew Passion. I wasn't familiar with this work at all (I did attend a performance of its twin, Bach's St. John Passion, last year), so I was really intrigued to see what we would learn.

So far, we've talked about the history of the work, both in Bach's lifetime and after his death. I was surprised to learn that I already knew the tunes to several of the chorale sections in the work. It turns out that Bach took some older Lutheran hymns and reharmonized them for the passion. The work is extremely dramatic and theatrical and straddles the line between opera (which was forbidden in Protestant Germany) and church hymns.

I'm really enjoying the study group so far. The work is 3 hours long, so just listening to it is a big time commitment, but it's also a j…